Whether or not you’re a digital creative, ad creative, graphic designer, industrial designer, package designer or accountant, ideas and concepts are a necessary part of taking your work to the next level. So how come some people have lots of them and others struggle to come up with just one or two?
It’s all about the process.
Whether we are aware of it or not, our thinking patterns follow a logical sequence to arrive at a conclusion. But if you can become more in tune with the process, you can open doors to creativity that you never thought possible.
Understand – you really have to have a clear understanding of what you need to achieve. That can be an end result, a message that needs to be communicated, or a look and feel. If your thinking at the beginning isn’t clear, chances are your idea won’t be either. Do some research, do some reading but get your brain rev’ed.
Keep it simple and percolate it. If the project is complex, break it down into manageable chunks and tackle them one at a time. Your brain is a sponge. Absorb all the info and allow it to percolate. Don’t feel you have to get started right away. Let your subconscious do some of the heavy lifting.
Allow yourself time to download. Great ideas and concept are not dwelling on the surface. Great ideas have to be mined. You have to drill down to find them. You have layers of clichés, obvious thoughts, undrawn conclusions and idea stereotypes to get through before you reach the area of golden ideas. Sweep out the expected crap but don’t feel badly for doing so.
Great ideas are often the most unexpected. Once the crap is gone, you’re in a better headspace to challenge yourself to think in terms of opposites. Great comedy is built upon the element of surprise – you didn’t see the punch line coming. So are great ideas. No offense, but if 10 people in a room all think of the same thing – it ain’t great. Nor is it surprising.
Another technique: ask yourself “why not?” Ask it a lot! “Why not” is another way to get into the opposite headspace. Conventional wisdom tells us things are done a certain way. If a certain way was so great, you wouldn’t need that killer idea to make your thing better. So question everything and look at it in a full 360 degrees.
Never close your eyes. Ideas and inspiration are all around us. I often find ideas where I least expect them – like looking out the window of a cab.
To use a tired cliché, the more times you step up to bat, the greater your chances of hitting one out of the park. There is such a thing as trying too hard. But remember this: great ideas don’t come when you want them – they come when they’re ready. A legendary, much-awarded creative team I knew, would work on dozens of campaigns, just to hit one out of the park. They taught me that luck and timing play a part in it. To improve your odds do more.